I have finally got a little time to sit down and talk about my experience of the NHS hack day in Cardiff last month, organised by Anne Marie Cunningham. Hack days are brilliant for putting Developers, Designers and Domain Experts together in one space to come up with solutions to solve real world problems.
I initially had a few ideas I wanted to work on, but my family encouraged me to go with an idea we had come up with over Christmas.
My brother-in-law had told us an horrific story of how he and his friends had found an unconscious mountain biker in the Welsh valleys, somewhere near Cwmcarn. Even though my brother-in-law is a doctor, he still had problems. He had no idea who this person was or if he had any pre-existing medical conditions. He did not know exactly where they were and that’s also why the ambulance services took a while to find them.
After hearing this story, I knew there must be a way that technology can make these situations easier. I thought of my skiing jacket, which has a RFID chip to help locate me if I ever get stuck under deep snow in an avalanche. Why don’t we do something similar for mountain bikers, cyclists or even motorcyclists? This is when the idea for a QR sticker containing basic medical details was born.
Well, the NHS hack day seemed like the perfect place to pitch this idea. I first posted a question on the forum to get some feedback from the group, which was very encouraging.
On the day, I think that David Miller was surprised to see so many people have ideas they wanted to pitch, and after hearing some of these ideas, I was already thinking of which team I could join to try make some really cool stuff!
My one minute pitch went well, with some practice and help beforehand. I got a little team together, which is what is great about these hack days! You have really motivated dynamic team of experts who are able to apply their knowledge and make amazing things happen. We created our solution, called bcon.cc, then worked on designs and the system process flow, trying to get the user experience right. We then set about acquiring user feedback and applying our expert knowledge. Unfortunately I was the only developer in my team, so I did have quite a lot of work to do. I must admit, I did not get to bed that night until midnight, and I was also up really early on Sunday morning hacking away, bug fixing and configuring servers and getting the system to work.
When it came to the last day, we were determined to have a functional product, and after overcoming some technical difficulties with DNS servers overly optimistic caching, things started going smoother. After our two minute Bcon presentation and a nervous live demonstration, we were delighted to hear we had won best for improving patients’ lives! What a surprising result for such a simple idea. Let me also mention the other inspiring ideas that were turned into reality, many of which will have a positive impact on people’s lives today.
After our success at the NHS hack day, we started to develop Bcon.cc into a fully functional product, which will soon allow you to get high quality stickers online. We have been working closely with a few local businesses, and have also been getting help from the great community at the techhub, thanks Ben, Matt, Tim, Steve and Adam. You can follow bcon on twitter which will keep you up to date. We have also been regularly updating our website, https://www.bcon.cc, and are planning a significant update next week.